By Laura Lee Flanagan

Worn leather, rich silk velvet, vintage Highland check, antlers, hounds and heaths: These are the essential elements of the well-appointed country home, all stemming from the style known as “equestrian chic.” On the streets of New York, we see traces of equestrian chic daily in tall field boots, jodhpurs or a horsey “it” bag by Fendi, Dior or Gucci. I have often winced walking down Madison Avenue or in SoHo when passing a young lass who appears ready for the hunt field, but with a Stella McCartney shopping bag in tow instead of a dirty L.L. Bean barn bag. Once, I saw a young woman in custom Der-Dau field boots polished to mirrored perfection with spurs…at Saks!

Old world elegance—the distinguished look of storied homes like the famed Surtee’s or Chatsworth, and their Hollywood iterations in Gosford Park— is widespread in the pages of Vogue. By means of a horse-head napkin ring or a wall-mounted saddle, we are constantly fed tips on how to incorporate equestrian equipment into our homes, as if our lives were guided by an 18th century field manual.

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But along the way, the dirt and grime that come with riding a horse—elements that, to any true equestrian, are beautifully inevitable—seem forgotten. How do these trendsetters expect to keep their breeches and boots so neat and clean? Few of them have likely mounted an Arabian or an Appaloosa, of course. Still, I appreciate that the strength, freedom and beauty associated with horses is at the heart of a timeless sartorial fascination.

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